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Investing in beauty, environment

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Photos by Andrew Maciejewski/Huntington Herald-Press DIG: Construction crews work to plant a tree along the new multi-use trail along old Business U.S. 24, which was recently reconstructed and dedicated as the Archbishop Noll Parkway in honor of entrepreneuer John Francis Noll.
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PUSH: Two workers push a young tree upright before planting it into the median of the Archbishop Noll Parkway.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

As kindergarteners ride along Archbishop Noll Parkway, they won’t have very fond memories of the former Business U.S. 24, but as they make their way through the Huntington County school system, they will watch the City of Huntington transform into a more wooded city.

Construction crews are working to finish the final steps to complete the Archbishop Noll Parkway. They are constructing a few more drains, making a sign that identifies the new name change honoring John Francis Noll, adding multi-use trail signage and planting nearly 60 trees to line the street.

“I’m very happy to see those trees going in because it means we’re about done,” Mayor Brooks Fetters said.

The goal is to beautify the City of Huntington, and Fetters said they are paying special attention to the major corridors into the city. Biologist and professor at Huntington University Collin Hobbs and arborists have helped the City pick both native and diverse species to make Huntington look authentic and keep it’s ecosystem healthy.

“We try to make sure that we have a nice mix so that if there were some sort of blight that came through and destroyed a certain species of tree, the whole thing’s not devastated,” he said.

Fetters said his administration is involved with the Tree City Initiative and has been committed to planting trees across the city, like their annual Arbor Day activities.

This past April, the City planted 60 trees at Yeoman Park on Market Street and also planted numerous trees between the north and south ponds at Memorial Park, with help from the Huntington Rotary Club.

Trees are symbols of life and vitality. They’re beautiful and they put a smile on people’s face,” Fetters said. “It’s like the old adage, there’s no better time to plant a tree than 20 years ago, and if you didn’t do it then, plant it today.”

Crews worked to get the trees into the ground on Tuesday morning, just in time for the dormant season in winter but before the roots begin to grow in the spring.

The city recently put all of the trees in Memorial Park on the Government Information System (GIS) map with a rating system that shows how healthy the trees are.

The city rolled out the project along with Hobbs at Huntington University and a few interns that helped identify more than 300 trees in the park and assessed their health to allow the city to better manage the park.

For example, if a insect like the emerald ash borer decimates tree species or a disease is wiping out trees, the system will allow the city to foresee how big the impact will be and better react to the threat.